The Guardian features ocean based companies tackling marine litter…

A few years ago, I was training for the Brighton Marathon and spent a good chunk of time clocking up the miles along the seafront promenade. What struck me (through the utter boredom) was how many people were running too. Had they always been there? Were they training for an event too? Or had I just never noticed them until now? Everywhere I looked, there were people running. And so it is with everything marine litter. Each day, we find more and more articles, products, initiatives to log in our marine litter files. Is it that we just are more tuned in, or are there more people actually talking (and doing something) about it? Is this the start of the ‘sea change’ on marine litter?

Big Spring Beach Clean 3

Who can say. But we did notice that The Guardian published a rather interesting round up of ‘surf related product innovations’ not in their sport and lifestyle pages, but in their circular economy section, which we think is rather telling.

For many, business and product innovation is something that happens in the city, or tucked away in workshops and design studios across the globe. Talk to someone about the surf industry and not everyone will make the connection with forward thinking – sustainable – product creation.

However, it has been our experience that those who are the closest to the problem have the most to gain from creating positive change, and of course, they understand the issue completely. So a whole range of sustainable business and product innovations related to marine litter from surf industries should fit like a non-neoprene glove.

So – here is the run down from The Guardian’s article, published 02 August 2016…

Otter Surfboards – created from wood rather than synthetics, with timber from local, responsible forests and with all ‘waste’ used somewhere else in the system, these boards are the pinnacle of hand made…

surfers stood on beach with wooden surfboards


Rareform – billboard surf bags – in the same vein as our beloved Frietag truck tarp bags, these surf bags utilise everything the advertising vinyls are good at. Hardwearing, waterproof and minimising waste.

Patagonia and Yulex – natural rubber rather than synthetic neoprene wetsuits made from highly managed, sustainable forests – launched this week. (NB – Natural rubber has been a bit of a poster material in the last few years, but as demand has gone up, ethical practices have been swamped by those seeking to make a wad of cash from rubber plantations created from cleared natural forests) Great to see Patagonia taking the lead – again.

More Product Views

Enjoy Handplanes– made from mushrooms. Yes, really. And expect to see lots more products hit our shelves as we are only just starting to realise the potential of this material…

Stacks Image 1505

FiveOceans – a surfboard fin made from recovered marine waste – working to save the five oceans.

ecoFin - Thruster Set for FCS Plugs

RubyMoon and Finisterre – swimwear made from Econyl – a yarn made completely from recovered waste nylon, such as fishing nets.


So when you think about it, creating items from waste marine litter makes perfect sense, and who would be your earliest adopters? Those who work, live and play in the setting. They understand the issues and want to do something about it. It’s a great place to start.

(images via associated links)

SPOTTED – Precious Plastic…

Plastic. We speak about it a lot here on the Ecospot, which, for an eco design blog may first appear a bit odd. But it is one of the most prevalent materials on our planet, reaches to every corner of the globe, and despite being mostly derived from oil, is considered cheap and throwaway. It is possibly one of our biggest material and design challenges we have. So, our studio research is based around plastic a great deal, especially marine plastic. Plastic is precious and should not be a throwaway material – so we were really excited to see Precious Plastic launched by Dutch designer Dave Hakkens last week…

precious plastic logo

The culmination of over two years work, Precious Plastic aims to rethink our personal connections with the recycling of plastic. We are all very used to sticking plastic in our recycling bins and allowing our local authorities ship it on to recycling and reprocessing specialists, but we don’t do anything with it ourselves. We are divorced from the recycling process.

Exploring exotic waste

But instead of seeing plastic as ‘waste’ we could be thinking about it as a material ripe for recovery and reprocessing into new things. And let’s be honest, plastic waste is something we see floating around our streets and in our oceans no matter where we live. We certainly do not have a shortage of raw materials.

So what is Precious Plastic? Basically, Hakkens has designed a set of four, open source machines that mimic the types of large processing machinery used in plastic production but that use pieces of stuff that you can, again, find anywhere on the planet. Bits of old oven, old metal scraps, generic pieces that can be adapted to what you have.

Starting with a shredder to process your plastic, the three remaining machines allow you to DIY injection mould, extrude and compress your raw plastic to create a range of new forms. All open source with downloadable plans.

But as well as being a DIY project, Hakkens suggests that you could even set up your own mini design and make workshop using the system using recovered plastic and even ask people to bring their plastic to you, which you could repay with money or products.

As well as the hands-on and open source element of this project, we love the fact that Precious Plastic is exactly that – communicating the fact that this ‘throwaway material’ is everything but. It is precious and has a value. Imagine a world where all our waste had a value. That would be the first step towards a circular economy for sure.

Head over to Precious Plastic to learn more about the project, look at the videos, share the story and get involved.

(all images / videos via Precious Plastic)

welcome to 2016 – and the Local, Handmade and Secondhand consumer challenge…

Welcome to 2016. After a couple of weeks of recapping the best posts from 2015, and enjoying the wonderfulness of the festive season we have come back to the studio full of beans and observations and fired up for a new year. We will reveal some of these observations (which will likely turn into projects) in the coming weeks, but today we are sharing our first – the LHS challenge, or the Local, Handmade and Secondhand consumer challenge.

local handmade secondhand challenge jan 16

So what sparked this? Well, as committed hunters of all things wonderful and secondhand, our family came up with a set of rules for Christmas. We could only spend £10 (ish) per person – and we had to buy things for each other that were locally made, were handmade (by the giver of the gift) or were secondhand. Despite some grumbles from the non-charity shop shoppers in the clan, the LHS challenge was set. And it went down marvellously.

ethical consumer 6

From homebrewed drinks to handcrafted chocolates, secondhand woolly jumpers that would have cost a small fortune new, beautifully worn leather bags and even a complete 1950’s picnic basket, we did really well. And what was interesting is that each gift was a perfect fit with the person. Personality came out in the creation of the present and each one was thoughtfully selected instead of hurriedly bought.

ethical consumer 5

For those not used to consuming in this way, the charity shops of the nation were a revelation. New stuff does not always mean great stuff in the same way that secondhand stuff means second rate stuff. We swapped stories of how stuff was found, where, the conversations we had in the shops with the volunteers, their responses to our challenge – and the thrill we got from finding that *perfect* thing.

ethical consumer 7

Many of the family vowed to shop more in charity shops this year…

And so – we are setting up the LHS (Locally made, Handmade, Secondhand) consumer challenge to ourselves this year – buying as much as we can locally, or stuff that is handmade by real people (including us), or stuff that is secondhand and with a story to tell. A different type of consuming. Consuming but caring too.

So – want to join us on our challenge? Tweet us your picks to @clairepotter and hashtag it #LHSconsumer and let’s see what we can find! Let’s challenge the way we buy stuff in the next year – and be proud of our makes, repairs and secondhand stuff.

(all pictures of stuff we have bought previously in our unofficial LHS consuming!)

2015 recap – August – Project Ocean and more marine litter…

We are staying with marine litter for our most popular August post here on The Ecospot – this time with a review of Project Ocean at Selfridges…

(first posted August 15)

As I have mentioned here before, in a childhood long long ago, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I was fascinated by the sea – the abundance yet invisibility of the life. The variety and the scale of those underwater cities, filled me with wonder. Fast forward a few years, and even having decided that design and architecture was my calling, the childhood awe for our oceans never drifted away. This, coupled with the studio foundation in sustainable design is why the issue of marine litter – and particularly plastic waste holds such a concern for us. So – it was with delight that we found that this years Project Ocean exhibition at Selfridges, London, was to focus on this very subject…

Project Ocean 13

It may seem quite odd for a huge department store, which of course, is based on our insatiable appetite for consumption to hold an exhibition of this kind. However, where better place to educate the masses of the issues at hand? By situating the exhibition in a side section of the homewares section in the basement we were optimistic that it would be rammed with people keen to learn more.

This, unfortunately, was not the case. 

Having battled through shoppers on an end-of-the-week spending binge, we entered the exhibition under a ceiling installation of single use water bottles and into a beautifully conceived, yet ghostly quiet space. It was a real shock.

Project Ocean 4

But this was but one of many shocks we discovered at the Project Ocean exhibition. The ceiling of the entrance featured an installation by How About Studio, constructed from 5,000 single use plastic water bottles diverted from the London waste stream – representing the amount of bottles used by the UK market every 15 seconds, which was staggering. Of course, not all of these single use bottles will end up in the ocean, but considering the recycling rates are so pitifuly low, it certainly puts the issue into perspective.

Project Ocean 12

Turning left into the space, we were greeted by a large poster featuring the most dangerous species in the ocean, from a cotton bud sea urchin to a plastic bag jellyfish, again with sobering data on how long plastic waste persists in the water, and the damage it creates.

Project Ocean 10

Project Ocean is split into two halves, with the Water Bar and the main Exhibition – we headed to the Water Bar area, which concentrates on Selfridges own commitments to the cause. The long, recycled glass bar is clean and modern in shades of nautical blue and white and is where the resident ‘water sprites’ dispense free water to visitors, tinted with herbs, essences and fresh fruit.

Project Ocean 11

Behind the bar is a small yet intriguing collection of water vessels from around the world – from clay pots to aluminium French cycling bottles – all reusable, which contrasted well with the abundance of single use water bottles hanging over our heads as we entered the space.

Alongside the Water Bar was a small collection of the vessels that can be purchased from Selfridges, from bpa free plastic bottles to elegant glass carafes and chunky glasses. We were delighted to see that these were sat on a chunk of recycled plastic from Smile Plastics, which not only gave a very relevant nod to the Project Ocean focus, but looked wonderful. This is something we are very keen to promote – as designers it is up to us to specify these types of recycled materials to encourage others to produce materials from ‘waste’.

Project Ocean 3

But the Selfridges commitment also involves the removal of all single use plastic water bottles from their cafes and food halls, and the installation of a public water fountain instead – encouraging people and providing a source for people to refill their own vessels. The water ‘tinting’ will only last for the duration of the Project Ocean exhibition (until early September), but this action will hopefully make people consider their choices…

Join us for Part two on 19th August where we enter the exhibition part of Project Ocean…

(all images by claire potter)

2015 recap – March 2015 – industrial interior design – on trend or eco?

March heralded a very popular post about our specialism, eco interior design and industrial interior design, and here we were pondering… is all industrial interior design automatically eco?

(first published 31 March 15)

Often, when people find out that we are ‘eco interior architects’, they ask exactly what that means. Do we only use natural materials? Do we use reclaimed materials? Do we have a particular look? The answer varies, but the general consensus is ‘sometimes’. We do use a huge amount of natural materials and specialise in using reclaimed pieces, and whilst our style is very particular to the studio (a general honest, slightly industrial look) it depends hugely on what our client requires. But, the ongoing trend for ‘industrial’ styled spaces tends to lean towards the use of honest, raw, yet highly precise materials.

Designing a Modern Fast Food Restaurant

One such example of this type of interior is with the new fast food restaurant, ‘Simple’ in central Kiev. This innovative restaurant was given a complete identity and interior design by Ukrainian based Brandon Agency, who stuck to the use of organic materials such as plywood, kraft paper and machined timber to create a simple and unified scheme.


With the ubiquitous grey (of which we are massive fans…) there is a good balance between the white brick and the green of the plants – another essential ingredient in the stereotypical ‘eco’ interior, which creates a fresh and welcoming, if slightly hipstery space. The design is thorough and beautifully balanced and fits the branding and ethos of the company – simple – very well.

Now, we are fully aware that even though eco interiors can be created in any style, this is the type of project which has come to represent the genre. This is great whilst the grey / green / timber space is being welcomed, but we are pretty keen to break down a myth that perhaps all eco interiors look like this. Many projects that may not be seen as an ‘eco’ interior on the face are actually very responsibly sourced and specified, so if you do not see wood and plants, it does not necessarily mean that it is not an eco interior.

Sometimes you have to scratch the surface a bit…

(images via Design Milk)

2015 recap – February – structural skin leather reuse…

Next up on our 2015 recap is our most popular February post, where we were talking about waste re-use in a very different way…

(first posted on 25th February 2015)

As designers we are faced with daily choices. How to design something – what it is made of and how we source the materials are key to understanding the impact of our designs. This is why we choose to work with as much ‘waste’ material as possible in our work and we are delighted to see examples of how other designers are tackling the same issues. The Structural Skin project by Spanish designer  Jorge Penadés is a great example of very alternative thinking.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-1

Leather working, whilst very traditional, is extremely wasteful and inefficient as a process, so Penades has created a new method for using the scraps of otherwise discarded leather. The pieces, after being shredded, are bound and compressed to produce a material that looks rather like a bar of nut studded chocolate, but can be used to create new products – like the examples from the capsule collection which features a clothes rail and side table.

Jorge Penadés-Structural-Skin-3

Due to the natural quality of the material, it features a whole range of colours and patternations, adding to the individual nature of each of the pieces.

This lovely video shows the process…

Structural Skin from Jorge Penadés on Vimeo.

The Disruptive Innovation Festival starts today!

Festivals do not need to mean tents, mud and questionable sanitary provisions. Starting today, and running until the 20th November, the Disruptive Innovation Festival is a (mostly) online event dedicated to the discussion and expansion of knowledge around all things circular economy – our own committed way of working here at CPD.

DIF 2015

Founded by the circular economy pioneer charity, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2014, the DIF… ‘brings together thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, businesses, makers, learners and doers to catalyse system-level change for a future economy. Over three weeks, using a mix of online and face to face events, participants have an abundance of opportunities to explore the economy through a different lens. We want to share all the ways you and our partners are challenging the linear ‘take make and dispose’ model of the economy, replacing it by a more prosperous regenerative and circular economy – is this the ultimate disruption?’

It is very exciting. We will be talking about the DIF and circular economy issues a great deal over the next few weeks, posting about up and coming talks and reviewing those that we take part in ourselves. And the best part is that most of it is online – and therefore accessible to most of us. And it is free.

Register for the Disruptive Innovation Festival here –  and get exploring. From the Big Tent Talks, to the Open Mic events, there will be something for everyone who would like to know more about how the circular economy is the way forward for the way we live, work – and how we can thrive.

Want to see the highlights from the 2014 event? Take a look below…

(images via the DIF)

September window – the Lorax makes an appearance at Studio Loo…

Since we moved to our new home, Studio Loo, which we converted from an old public wc building last year, we have loved having windows out onto the street. We get to see the toing and froing along Portland Road in Hove, wave at familiar faces we see walk past and be part of street life. What is also great is that we now have three windows that face onto the road – allowing us to indulge our creativity every few weeks or so. And at the moment, we have the Lorax.

the lorax window

Like some of our projects, our current window came about after a collection of things were sourced or discovered – and brought together under a theme. We inherited a blow up globe, then found an executive black and grey globe in a local charity shop for £5. Claire then found a stack of Wallpaper city guides in the local Oxfam bookshop.

ethical consumer 7

We decided to hang the inflatable globe. Then the black one sat underneath as the ‘future’. It was too low, so the colourful guides were added – listing cities around the world – we are all in this together. Nice composition, but it needed a written message – what did we want to say?

As fans of Dr Seuss in general, quotes from the fantastical series have found it onto the window more than once, but for this one, we needed a clear, snappy environmental message that could be read in the time it takes someone to walk past Studio Loo (about 6 or so seconds). We needed the Lorax – the 1971 tale of a creature who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler.

‘unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.’ 

It worked. Plus, as we are next to a junior school, this is the message we need to spreading to young and old. What is delightful is that we have seen adults explaining it to kids. Or sometimes just kids taking photos of it. It’s brilliant.

However, this does put a bit of pressure on for the next one…ah.

(images by claire potter design)

Zero Waste Week starts here…

Welcome to Zero Waste Week – the annual drive both in the UK and further afield to get us all – individuals, businesses and local authorities alike to consider the stuff we chuck ‘away’. But we know that the magic place is actually not ‘away’ at all, but our creaking landfills or worse, out to sea where it degrades and is eaten by fish and other mammals. 

Plus, this year, the focus is on Reuse – a subject very close to our hearts, so for the rest of this week, we will be looking at great projects that can help you to reuse stuff, or are even made of waste themselves…

And there are plenty of ways to get involved with Zero Waste Week – why not try a few of these challenges:

  • only buy secondhand for the week (apart from food, obviously)
  • completely delete new plastic use for a day (harder than you think…)
  • purchase one thing that is made from a ‘waste’ material, for yourself, or for someone’s Christmas present.
  • don’t buy any bottled water, but use a refillable water bottle instead (make this a permanent habit if you can)
  • sign up to Freegle.

Plus, if you are looking for another way to reuse or recycle your stuff, you can also sign up to the first UK Garage Sale Trail later this month as a seller, or take a wander around and buy stuff you need that other people do not. It’s that simple.

(we are having a sale at Studio Loo too – loads of design journals, salvage, books and cake – see details here)

Reuse – it’s our only way forward.

Reclaimed ocean plastic is the material of the moment…

So – for two of our posts this week we have looked at the Project Ocean exhibition currently at Selfridges – and we thought we would continue with this theme with a look at two of the recent releases by big brands that highlight the ocean plastic plight.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

First up is the recent concept shoe by Adidas and British designer Alexander Taylor – the Adidas x Parley, revealed at an event for the Parley for the Oceans initiative, which encourages creatives to repurpose ocean waste for awareness design.

The shoe, which is hoped to go into production in 2016 uses fibres created from nets recovered from illegal poaching vessels by marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd. As well as the material, the design of the shoe also references the waves of the nets in its patternation.

Adidas x Parley recycled ocean waste sneaker

What is key is that Taylor and Adidas were able to create the concept shoe using the same machinery and methods that a ‘regular’ shoe is manufactured. Many of the arguments around using recycled yarns and materials centre around the misconception that there has to be massive manufacturing alterations to create form ‘waste’, so this move from Adidas shows this does not need to be the case.

Whilst Adidas are keen to promote this as a ‘concept’ shoe, we hope that this does not remain on the concept shelf and actually goes into production. Sceptics could argue that this, excuse the pun, is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to both reclaiming ocean plastic and creating new design from a waste material. Plus, given the size of Adidas it could be seen as a little bit greenwashy, but hey – shouldn’t this be the exact behaviour we should be encouraging big brands to undertake? Isn’t this better than the alternative of creating from virgin materials?

The Adidas x Parley concept is certainly a step in the right direction, but there are already brands who are creating fashion to purchase, using yarns made from plastic waste.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

G-Star RAW has recently revealed it’s third collaborative collection with Pharrell Williams which uses ocean plastic fibres mixed with other materials. The RAW for the Oceans collection features the tag line ‘turning the tide on plastic ocean pollution’ and features jumpers, t-shirts, jackets and jeans.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

It is reported that 700,000 PET bottles have been removed from the ocean to go into the production of the RAW for the oceans collections so far, which is not a considerable amount of plastic recovered. Again, a tiny fraction, but as the old saying goes – better out than in.

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW AW 2015

But the most interesting element for us is the psychology that goes with these collections – by creating something from a waste material, there is a point you have to cross in customers’ minds – where does ‘rubbish’ end and ‘luxury’ begin? Big brands certainly have the scale and opportunity to create a real attitude change, and it is interesting to understand whether people purchase these goods because they are fashionable and ‘on trend’, or whether they purchase them because they are made from an ‘ethical’ material. Where does the buy in happen? Also, what happens to these garments when they reach the end of their life – have they been designed for circularity?

Something, we no doubt will explore…

(images via Dezeen)

*** REVIEW *** Stuffocation – living more with less…

Welcome back peeps. We have been away for a couple of weeks, but rest assured, we were certainly not resting on our laurels. Yes siree bob, we were all over the shop doing exciting design things, including leading the University of Sussex Product Designers in the building of their stand for New Designers 2015. More of this later this week, but one thing the recent relentless train travel allowed was the time to get stuck into a good book. And this good book, although very new, was aptly found in an Oxfam shop in Islington… Stuffocation: Living more with less by James Wallman.

The irony of buying a book (which some people deem clutter) to read about having less stuff was not lost on me, but with the internal promise that it would be donated back, it was purchased.

From the outset, Wallman frames the issue – we have too much stuff, and this stuff is making us sick / depressed / unfulfilled, or even putting us into debt. We are suffocating in our own stuff, where the natty title terminology of ‘Stuffocation’ comes in.

But where has this come from? Is it our own fault? The fault of the advertisers and manufacturers? Can we proportion blame to anyone? The invention of materialism (and yes – it really was invented by the Mad Men and Women and manufacturers to ensure that the surplus of ‘made’ stuff was bought to ensure economic growth), has led to us being conditioned into thinking that we need to have the next best / biggest / fastest thing to keep up with the Joneses and keep our hard won place in society. But we were the ones handing over the cash – or cards (although, again – invented to allow us to spend spend spend). But we made the final choices.

In a time of plenty this was perhaps not an issue. Manufacturers did not know that the materials were going to run out, or the implications on our health and environment from the development of mass production techniques – we needed to grow. Today, with our rapidly declining materials, debts and uncertainty, this is wrong. GDP is not measured in such a way that takes into account everything our modern life encircles, or indeed our world needs. We have too much, we desire too much and we need to realise that we need to slow down.

The ‘slow’ movement has long been around for food, has progressed into fashion, and Wallman argues, should be the way of living – we should retain the possessions that truly fulfil us and live without the rest. Minimalism, of a sort.

But can we really be happy with only 100 things? How do you count your possessions (is a pair of socks one, two or all your socks counted as ‘one’ item?) Is 100 things the right amount for each person? Stuffocation looks at this new ‘minimalist’ trend and Wallman comes up with a conclusion – instead of retaining and purchasing new things, we should move from a world of materialistic consumers to a world of ‘experientialists’ – people who experience and do not own.

Now, this may seem like a bit of a strange notion – how can we experience things and not own them? Look closer at your life and you will likely realise that you already do… iTunes? Spotify? You own the access to the music and not the boxes of CD’s. Kindle? ebooks and not a forest of paper. Car sharing like Zipcar or City Car Club? You got it.

The new sharing economy certainly has a lot of clout in the principles set up in Stuffocation, but Wallman goes further – an experience holds greater value than a thing. For instance, a trip to the beach to watch an open air cinema performance will hold greater personal value – long and short term – than another dress that may be worn a couple of times, even if they have the same monetary value. Plus, in our eternal search for keeping up with the Joneses, we are ‘one-upping’ each other by sharing our experiences, not showing off our stuff. Think you don’t do that either? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram…?

So – a life spent full of experiences will be better for us and better for the world as a whole. In some instances I certainly agree, but if we are talking about environmentalism, jetting off on a plane every other weekend on a city break is not that clever. Sure, I won’t buy anything, but is that a good trade off? So should we limit our experiences too? How far before we begin to go down the carbon credit route…?

And what about the things you buy – how can we ensure that we are getting (and will retain) the best thing for us? Do we operate a ‘one in one out’ policy? Should we spend the most we can on something to ensure it is of a higher quality to begin with and will likely last longer? Do we only buy things that can be ugraded, repaired, refurbished?

Stuffocation begins to ask these questions – and in an interesting way. It was enough to make me turf out a whole load of things that honestly I did not need and feel that deep seated sigh of joy at a relatively empty wardrobe and the pleasure of giving them away to charity…

So will Stuffocation be heading back to the charity shop too? I know it’s not in the spirit, but I will be hanging onto it for a while. I need to experience it again…

REVIEW – the Factorylux workshop at Clerkenwell Design Week 2015…

We love a good workshop. There is nothing better than getting away from behind the desks at the studio and doing something hands-on. It is even better if it has a real relevance to the everyday work too – allowing you an insight into exactly what goes into doing, making or creating something that you specify on your projects. And so, it was with great delight that I attended one of the first ever Create Your Own Simple Light workshops with the fantastic Factorylux as part of the Clerkenwell Design Week this year.

Factorylux 4

Based in the courtyard of Look Mum No Hands, (a great cafe – fabulous Red Velvet cake too…) Factorylux had temporarily decamped from their home in Yorkshire to the depths of central London, bringing with them a selection of their simple, beautifully made industrial fittings – and a huge Linotype machine… Factorylux 8

Arriving at the our workstations we were confronted with a range of neat and tidy cables, plugs, tools and machinery. Choosing our own cable colours and plugs (neon green for me of course, plus a rather fetching orange plug), we set about starting the workshop, led by Technician Sophie.

Factorylux 5

We learn about the exact precision that goes into creating the lights in the Factorylux workshops – and how detailed the attention has to be to ensure that the end result not only looks fantastic, but that it works and is safe. Working to British Standards BS 4533 & BS EN 60598 certifies that the work has been carried out to the strict guidelines – which we are not joking – is strict, but completely necessary to ensure a safe light. Factorylux 7

One millimetre over or under when cutting your cables made a difference. Nicking the protective sheathing on the cable meant you needed to start again. Talk about pressure. But, quite soon (well, about an hour and a quarter), and after lots of guidance and support from the wonderful Factorylux technicians, all of us around the table were ready to test our lights. We were also delighted to see that Factorylux had gone to the trouble of printing our own names on the cable end wrap – along with our own tracing number, unique to our light…

Factorylux 6Testing the light was a worrying affair. It it buzzed at one point it was fine. If it buzzed when connected to another testing machine, it was not fine and had to be rejected. Fortunately, due to the expert guidance of our technicians, we all passed and were able to package up our lights and choose our bulb.

I plumped for their quite beautiful new, large round eco filament bulbs.

factorylux bulb

Factorylux 1

Heading back to Brighton with my bag full of goodies I was delighted – not only was I coming away with something that looked fantastic, there was the immense satisfaction of knowing that I had created it. There was also an immense feeling of appreciation for the Factorylux technicians, who work to incredibly high standards with an attention to detail that is incredible. Every step of the process was as critical as the last, but the results are of the highest possible standard. These are the real crème de la crème of lighting – and it was a real honour to see, and experience the workshop first hand…

Now. Where to hang that light?

(images by claire potter design)

SPOTTED – the ONDU pinhole camera that can be passed on for generations…

We are huge suckers for photography. We have just returned from a trip to Brussels where we amassed around 300 photographs over the period of just three days and we are eagerly awaiting the nod from Max for us to go and finish up our large format Intrepid Camera that we backed on Kickstarter. So, it was no great surprise when we stumbled upon and subsequently backed the ONDU pinhole camera on Kickstarter.

Pitched as both durable and simple to use, these beautiful little cameras (and large cameras) capture the purest form of photography – the pinhole image. Built in lovely FSC timbers and finished with beeswax, the ONDU pinhole camera is quite a stunning piece of product design that looks gorgeous and works well too. Plus, with the use of the timber, the camera will age well – picking up those tiny little nicks, scars and dents of memory that plastic can never achieve. This is where the emotional attachment comes in, both with the images that the camera will create and the actual camera itself, but allows it to truly be something that can be ‘passed down the generations’.

What is also key (and sparked many a discussion on our latest trip) is how image creation has become something that we don’t really think about any more. Camera phones and DSLR’s have allowed us to be extremely frivolent with our image taking. No longer do we have to savour each image – thinking hard about the composition, the colour and white balance, the right shaft of light – then wait for the image to be revealed, days later. No. We take a string of images at will, then eventually chuck away the ones that don’t work. What we learn from this process is rather questionable in many of our cases.


Of course, digital is wonderful, but every now and then, the slowing down of a process reveals the beauty and skill involved and allows us to be patient.

And we will have to be patient, as the 135mm panoramic ONDU pinhole camera we backed will not be ready till November 2015…

(video via the ONDU pinhole camera Kickstarter)

Clerkenwell Design Week 2015 – a preview…

Clerkenwell Design Week is upon us once more – beginning today, the annual three day event in the part of London that has the densest population of creative studios, practices and showrooms, per square mile – in the world. Quite something. And each year, these doors are thrown open to all for three days of talks, exhibitions, workshops, launches and parties – for free.

We will be heading up to Clerkenwell on Thursday for a look about, plus we will be on the FIXPERTS stand in the Design Factory between 1-5 (come and say hello!) and then we are off to a very special workshop with the guys at Factorylux (Urban Cottage Industries) – more on that later on in the week, but for those of you not familiar with Clerkenwell, here are our top tips:

1 – Looking for furniture, lighting and product design? First stop has to be The Design Factory located in the Farmiloe Building on 34 St John Street. Not only is the building absolutely stunning (a real 19th century industrial beauty), the variety of work on show is staggering.

2 – want to see the hot off the press new designers in another architectural gem? Check out the House of Detention next, which features interlocking subterranean spaces filled with great design and furniture.

3 – Clerkenwell Conversations is another real highlight of the three day festival, with world class designers, architects and manufacturers – this year talking about everything from public art to the architects insatiable desire to create furniture (ahem). Take a look here for the full programme.

4 – there are multiple showrooms open too, where you can discuss projects directly with the manufacturers, or just have a nose. This year we will be heading to Camira, Interface, The SCIN Gallery and Vitra – for starters…

5 – check out the Fringe too – there are some great event on in the smaller workshops and studios…

And want to whet your appetite? Take a look here at this round up from last year.

(video via Clerkenwell Design Week)

The Buster LED Bulb shines bright at Salone del Mobile…

It goes rather without saying that we are huge advocates of the LED bulb in our interior schemes, but until very recently there has been rather a lack of good looking LED bulbs on the market. This can be a problem, especially with the bare bulb trend that is continuing in many designs, from retail and bar design to industrial styled residential spaces. So, we were delighted when we heard about the rather lovely Buster LED bulb by London based design studio Buster + Punch. And when we were in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, we went and said hello…

Buster and Punch chandelier

Heralded as the ‘world’s first designer LED bulb’ the Buster bulb comes in three different colour varieties – crystal, gold and smoked – and looks stunning.


‘With the design, we wanted to achieve two things. The first was, quite simply, to make LED sexy. The second was to create a more useful light bulb that would give off both an ambient warm glow and a focused spot light – something never achieved by a single light bulb before.’

And this is exactly what the Buster LED bulb does – it looks amazing and works wonderfully, with the clear resin central tube transferring and diffusing the light through the very classic teardrop shaped bulb. It is also a direct replacement for the standard incandescent bulbs, is dimmable and consumes 1/20th of the power of the traditional bulb. Plus, each bulb is a very reasonable £40 or so each.


‘Buster + Punch are a small independant company that make things, so when we decided to take on the challenge to build the world’s first designer LED bulb people thought we were mad! – Clearly there was a 99% chance that one of the bigger guys would beat us to it.

As I sit here today writing this, we all feel a massive sense of pride, not just becuase we managed to build what we think is a great looking piece of design, but because this simple light bulb might just help the everyman save a little bit of money and help the environment at the same time. It could only be a small shift, but hopefully we can finally get people looking at eco-efficient design in a different light’ says Massimo Buster Minale – Founder & Co-Designer.

Buster LED bulb

And this is key – ‘eco’ or ‘green’ or ‘energy efficient’ design does not need to mean that is does not look great. They are not mutually exclusive terms. They can co-exist – and the more designers that realise this the better.

Well done Buster + Punch.

(photos by claire potter and images courtesy of Buster + Punch)